Introduction In an effort to understand ethnocentrism which

Introduction

In an effort to understand ethnocentrism which is defined as, the tendency to believe that one’s cultural beliefs and their culture’s ethnic values to be superior to others. The inclination to believe that one’s ethnic or cultural group is better than another when compared to one’s culture.

Ethnocentrism is an attitude that is expressed in one’s belief that their own culture or their ethnic group is superior to others. The term was first used by William Graham William (1840-1910) as he sought to describe the view that one’s cultural heritage is the centre of everything and all other cultures are measured and referenced to it. This is influenced by the standards set in one’s culture and one employs these standards as a bar to judge other cultures.

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It is defined as using one’s cultural heritage as the starting point to judge other cultures. Cultural relativism on the other hand is the belief that all cultures are equal. Avoiding the temptation to pass judgment over another culture and putting in effort to understand the culture. This means that in order to understand another culture, studying the cultural practices, beliefs, rites and ceremonies, language, institutions and so on. In studying the influence of ethnocentrism over culture, relativism is relative because they each affect the other either positively or negatively.

Reducing ethnocentricity

Ethnocentrism is closely related to attitudes in any society, attitude indicators to aspects such as racism, prejudice and even xenophobia. Ethnocentrism is widely applied in research to understand societal attitudes, as it is a good indicator for measuring how a society is able to accommodate or tolerate another culture or ethnic group. It indicates an individual’s perception towards what is considered as an outsider group. This is influenced by the standards set in one’s culture and one employs these standards as a bar to judge other cultures.

It is defined as using one’s cultural heritage as the starting point to judge other cultures

Promoting cultural relativism

Various studies have been conducted to suggest the causes of ethnocentrism. Understanding the causes of ethnocentrism helps to reduce it and therefore promote cultural relativism. Social identity, which is an individual identifying with a particular group that more often than not leads to the development of a negative attitude as well as stereotyping of persons of an outsider group. This can be reversed by ensuring there is an avenue for interactions between members of a society. Exposure to different cultures can help fight the negative attitude as well as stereotyping. Some personality types are regarded as said to be more vulnerable to adopting what is considered an ethnocentric prejudice.

Social scientists have attributed the development of such an attitude to lack of exposure to other cultures. This can be countered by ensuring maximum interaction between members of different cultural groups. This can achieve by the creation of a heterogonous society this can be achieved through encouraging interactions in institutions such as schools and work places. Economic ethnocentrism can be countered by encouraging healthy competition for the limited resources in society. This is ethnocentrism developed from the perception that certain economic resources are entitled to a certain ethnic group. Competition for scarce resources in society by the different ethnic groups can lead to perceived or real conflict between ethnic groups resulting in ethnocentrism. Exposure to different cultures promotes equality as well as equity among the different ethnic groups.

Conclusion

Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s culture is superior to others.

It involves using one’s culture or ethnic group as the central point for rating other cultures. Culture relativism involves viewing all cultures as equal. Understanding ethnocentrism and its causes helps to encourage culture relativism. Research has shown that individuals with high level of education are more accommodative of other cultures other than their own. This indicates that educating people about other cultures and increasing their literacy can help reduce ethnocentrism as well as promote culture relativism. Increasing interaction between members of different ethnic groups and between different cultures increases cultural relativism.

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